Childish Gambino is a star within his own right. I mean, it seems like there is nothing Donald Glover (that’s his real name….yes, they are the same person) can’t do. Starting off as a writer for the popular television sitcom 30 Rock, Glover has proven his capability as a writer time and time again. Search Glover on YouTube, and I’m sure that you’ll find a couple stand up specials of his. His comedic chops were a dominant reason as to why Glover rose to stardom. Even with his most recent project, the award winning FX show Atlanta, he is no amateur in front of the screen, nor behind it.
Another hat we can give Glover is musical artist. Childish Gambino is his alter ego, coming out when he is ready to indulge in his craft. The first song I heard from him was Heartbeat. I remember bobbing my head to the song in the car as my mom dropped me off at hell…I meant high school. I also remember being shocked at finding out that the guy who created the song was previously playing a former jock turned nerd on the NBC show Community. I was impressed at his versatility, and don’t get me wrong, I still am. Awaken, My Love! was the album that made everyone realize that Gambino was a force to be reckoned with. They are still playing Stay Woke on radio stations. If you didn’t know who Childish Gambino was, I’m pretty sure you have some idea now. The psychedelic, funk, Bootsty Collins-esc vibe was a delight to my senses. When we were hit with This Is America, I was stunned at the amazing visuals that Gambino’s video left us with. It was one of those videos where you had to watch it a few times to make sure that you caught everything, and even then! You still would miss something. The white horse symbolizing the coming of death, the violence towards the black man in the beginning, but the careful handling of the gun representing how we care more about gun rights then the rights of other human beings…and so many more symbols for us to digest. People knew that he was talented, but now, it was no longer an opinion, it could be considered a fact.
Most recently, Gambino released the music video for his song “Feels Like Summer” off of his Summer Pack EP. The song was easy going. The song was mellow. It felt like a song that you would listen to during the summer time. I can easily envision myself on my back porch back at home in Chicago as the sunsets; my friends and I laughing and reminiscing about the past and how much we’ve grown as individuals sipping lemonade and not having a care in the world. I kind of zoned out a little there, but the song is just a chill song for lack of a better word. I notice that with Childish Gambino, his music is good, but the visuals make it that much better. I feel like This Is America would not have gotten the point across without the music video, and I can say the same with Feels Like Summer. Gambino gives us a dual sensation with the senses; auditory and visual. With the Feels Like Summer video, we see some of our favorite music artists and public figures interacting with each other. I didn’t notice what was going on until I saw Chance at Birdman’s cookout. I saw the Migos, Trippie Redd, Nicki Minaj, Travis Scott, but the moment I mostly want to talk about starts at the second minute and the sixth second. Kanye West is seen crying his eyes out as he’s donning the infamous MAGA hat. Soon after, we see Michelle Obama embracing him in a hug as his tears begin to cease. I’m sure it was only supposed to be seen as a sweet sentiment, but something with that visual did not sit right with me.
Michelle Obama is the epitome of an inspiration. When her husband Barack Obama was President, she did not just sit on the sidelines. She was vocal, she was active, and she was just a straight up badass. I know that it’s just a little music video, but the only animation that you could give her was her consoling a man who called slavery a choice? Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but hear me out. Why are black women always the ones who have to “save” black men? When Snoop Dogg said that Kanye West needed to be hugged by a black woman, I thought about it. Black women are the most ostracized demographic in America. Black women are at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to desire and respect it seems like. Black women are constantly ridiculed for their hair, the way they look, and so on and so forth. I know I’m kind of going off on a tangent here, but I’m just trying to explain where I’m coming from.
Every race of man has degraded black women…including black men. I can count on my fingers and toes the times I’ve heard a black man ridicule black women on something that they possess. However, if a woman of another race does the same thing that a black woman has done (long acrylics, braids, etc…), it is seen as innovative, cool, and them stepping out of their comfort zone. Kanye West…I have no idea what happened to him. He used to be a vigilante for the kids on the South Side of Chicago. He used to talk about the issues that plagued the streets that he used to live on, now he kind of mentions it when he is selling a brand new pair of shoes. Mr. West has shown some disrespect towards black women in the past. In 2016, he came under fire when he requested only multiracial models for his Yeezy Season Four fashion show. It’s all fun and games to drag black women, but when you’re getting dragged a black woman is supposed to come in and save the day? It’s a black woman’s job to set you straight? No no no, that is not our sole purpose in life.
Childish Gambino has been accused a few times of being “woke” when necessary. Now, when it was revealed that Glover was dating a white woman and had two kids with her, people flew off the handle and started labeling him a “traitor” and a “coon.” I wouldn’t go that far. Mr. Glover can date and marry whoever he wants, but as a black woman myself, I can definitely understand the disappointment that some black women felt. Chrissie, a YouTube commentator made a video about Childish Gambino in May, detailing some of the reasons as to why Gambino may not be as “woke” as people think. I’ll be honest, before this, I thought Childish Gambino was one of the most unproblematic people on the planet. That’s probably an exaggeration, but I didn’t question any of his intentions. In her video, she plays a clip of one of his stand up specials. To sum up everything, he has sex with an Armenian woman (not half Armenian, half black, not a black woman from Armenia….a full blooded Armenian woman) and got extremely aroused when she called him the n word during climax (er not a). Hmmm…maybe the joke was a little over my head, because I didn’t laugh; not even chuckle. I don’t know about you, but I personally believe that non black people should not ever use the n word, not even if their life depended on it. On an episode of Atlanta, he has a dark skinned black woman verbally going at it with a white woman on the fact that she’s with a black man. “We’re good enough to fight for black men, but we’re not good enough to marry or date….” she says later on in the video. That struck a chord in me. Black men will fight with black women, but not for.
Stephon Clark was gunned down by police March 18, 2018. Black women were the main people protesting for him and against what happened to him. His death was senseless and uncalled for, and there are no ifs ands or buts about it, but Stephon Clark…would he have done the same thing for a black woman. Tweets were released of him clowning black women, saying that dark skinned black women bring “dark days.” He had a seething hatred for black women. Even when these tweets surfaced, black women still were up to bat for this man. The women on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other forms of social media that repealed their support, were lambasted and shamed by mostly none other than black men.
Coming back to Childish Gambino and his video, I wasn’t the only one who felt this way when that image was shown. A few women on my Twitter feed felt the same way I did, reiterating the fact that black women are more than just a black man’s superhero. I’m not saying that black women can’t be, but there should be more of an equal response when black women are being attacked. Under the bus is not a good place to be thrown, and black women have been there more times than they should have been. Like I said previously, I’m sure the intentions were innocent, but when we acknowledge how these once acceptable ideologies can be seen as toxic, we have a chance to change the narrative for the future. Black women have their own struggles to deal with. If you have whatever you’re dealing with, and on top of that having to be the “savior” of someone else, that can cause tremendous pressure. Again, black women are HUMAN, and as well as deserving respect, they deserve a break.